President Macron has made gender equality the “great cause” of his presidency and called on UN States to make it a “global cause” by his side. In doing so, he has raised very high expectations at both national and international levels. Under the French Presidency, the 2019 G7 led to some concrete steps in terms of advancing gender equality in a rather difficult multilateral setting. Yet France’s “feminist” shift must be embodied at the highest political level now, through bolder stances in support of SRHR at the international stage and a significant increase of funding, both domestically and abroad.
Policies & funding
After being postponed several times, the renewed Development Law is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly by the beginning of 2020. It should be elaborated according to the priorities set by the “CICID” (inter-ministerial committee) in February 2018, among which gender, health and education. Francophone West African countries are still the biggest priority for French development policies. The Sahel Alliance that was broadened up during the G7 will be a pivotal mechanism in the region, but is still in need for stronger integration of gender equality and SRHR issues.
Regarding funding, France maintains its commitment to dedicate 0.55% of gross national income to ODA by 2022. With current ODA levels at 0.44%, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced an increase of €1 billion for the French development agency as from 2019, with €500 million dedicated to the aforementioned CICID priorities. Yet the budgetary trajectory meant to reach this target needs to be significantly revised upwards.
On SRHR more specifically, French contributions to SRH/FP amounted to €32.5 million in 2018. France announced that it would double its SRH/FP related core funding to UNFPA in 2019 (€550,000 to €1 100 000). President Macron also announced the creation of a new fund of €120 million dedicated to grassroots feminist organizations globally that should flow through the French Development Aid Agency. More concrete steps are now expected to accelerate the effective implementation of this fund.
The French government has officially announced its intention to position itself as a “feminist diplomacy”. Hosting both the G7 and the replenishment conference of the Global Fund Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, France used its diplomatic position in 2019 to increase the profile of gender equality and related issues in the international agenda. The G7 Heads of States Summit resulted in several political and financial commitments on gender-based violence, women’s economic empowerment and girls’ access to education. The Global Fund’s replenishment conference, on the other hand, raised around 14 billion euros for the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In his speech, President Macron stressed out the need to strengthen linkages between HIV/AIDS, SRHR and gender equality.
France is a strong voice for SRHR on the international stage. President Macron delivered a committed speech at the 2019 UNGA emphasizing issues such as feminicides or a woman’s right over her own body. Yet it was noted by feminist organizations that SRHR issues were not addressed during the G7, even though France had made a priority of gender equality. At the national level, there is also a huge demand for increased budget for the fight against gender-based violence. With the Generation Equality Forum being held in Paris in 2020, France is expected to be even more vocal and engaged on SRHR, politically and financially, at both national and global levels.
- France’s international strategy for gender equality (2018-2022)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Health Strategy (2017)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Population/SRHR Strategic Paper (2016)
- Development Law (2014)
Updated January 2020
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